SEQUIM — Fear, plain and simple. That’s what Rosalys Peel said she felt when she first heard about her husband’s Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis about 18 years ago.
“Just fear, plain old fear for me — of him running away, him getting lost, him hurting me, him harming himself … (of) not knowing me, not knowing my family,” Peel recalled.
That’s one of the things the Bainbridge Island nurse and author notes when she has the occasion to talk with groups about her book “Mike & Me” or Alzheimer’s disease in general.
“Then I quickly say none of that happened,” Peel said last week. “I just thought all of those things. And I’m an RN.”
Peel offers her insights into a near 10-year journey with her husband into the disease with a special on-air interview with KSQM 91.5 FM at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Peel is offering copies of her book — a guide for Alzheimer’s couples, families and caregivers — for $20, $5 of which will go to the Sequim Rotary Club as a fund drive. The donation will not be made with online orders. For purchase and local pick-up, email [email protected] or call 360-683-1444.
KSQM also will post the interview on the nonprofit’s facebook page at facebook.com/KSQM91.5FM.
Peel, a special guest at a Sequim Rotary meeting a few weeks ago, said her husband was diagnosed in 2002 and died 9½ years later, in 2011. In between, she recorded the trials and tribulations of living with someone with the disease, with insights and revelations that enabled the couple to stay together in the same home until his passing.
Peel, a registered nurse who teaches at Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center, said she was teaching couples to deal with conflicts, then going home to find herself in conflict with her husband.
“I thought, ‘Wait, I just taught this. I know how to do it.’ It was unusual that I had those skills at that time — it was just what we needed,” she said.
She found that her background in childhood development paid off as Mike’s disease progressed. For example, she one day realized his loss of certain skills meant they couldn’t go out for dinner; instead, it was a meal at home with finger foods.
Other realizations were elementary: Mike seemed to do better with more sleep, so the couple built in more naps during the day, and laughter was more and more beneficial over time. Confronting the disease, the couple came to strike a deal, Peel said: They would both stay at home “as long as it’s safe for you and it’s safe for me.”
A key part of that, she noted, was having a community of friends and family around to help them both.
“Mike & Me” was published in March 2018 by Zadra Publishing. Peel’s work has been featured on NPR and the Today Show.
“I hope the book will give people hope,” Peel said. “There’s no judgment. Everyone’s doing the best we can.”
Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].